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How to build a smart, rich and beautiful city 

Q&A with dwp design director, Angus Rose

You don’t have to leave town to know that not all cities are created equal. Apart from the god-given charms (or not) of a location; there are a multitude of factors affecting the happiness quotient of the inhabitants. We take a look at how architects and designers can help plan for a smarter, richer and more beautiful future for people, profits and the planet.


What is “smart design” and how can it improve quality of life?

“In the future, as more data is collected and analysed, we will be able to make efficient and environmental; evidence-based designs. Trading off a building’s footprint in favour of public parkland, for example. Smart architecture celebrates local culture, enhances community connection and supports positive ageing. Rathdowne Place Aged Carehome, is one example that underpins innovative retirement living. From sophisticated design to the quality of the materials and finishes, the state of the art wellness centre reflects dwp’s vision for healthy, active ageing in the heart of the community.”

Will certain neighbourhoods have more access to the benefits of connectivity than others? 

“One of the main objectives of Smart City is to ensure that good quality of life is within equal reach of everyone. Landscaping, architecture, town planning and design makes all the difference between projects that widen existing gaps; and those that close the gaps through analysis and interpretation of big data. Insight into behavioral patterns benefit everyone socially, economically and environmentally. Delivery of agile and efficient public spaces, within a structured urban framework, enables effective sharing of community resources; which is the foundation for an integrated society.”


Will smart cities be more beautiful? 

“They certainly can be more beautiful. Architects consider the environment in context: holistic design solutions for the public domain. Critically, we create spaces geared for agility; the public domain is more attuned for community interaction and responsive to the needs of the population. The purpose of Architecture in Urban Design is to serve the population in creating space to be enjoyed. Spaces that are efficient, sustainable and supportive of collaboration and community. So, there is beauty in how big data and agile design enables that attractive outcome.


Will cities designed ‘from scratch’ be smarter than London? (Currently top of the smart-charts)

“Yes and no. Like any new design or prototype, it is only through use that fine tuning and iterative improvement can occur. Existing cities are time tested and often more financially able to introduce innovative solutions and technology. Substantive data is similarly collected from an established population mass. While it is true that a new city can be backboned with the newest technology; it will still rely upon organic population growth to test its capacities. The real litmus test of a successful city is how changing conditions, such as population density and diversity, is managed. To that end, irrespective of the age of the city, the relative ‘smartness’ is how it responds to the data from the systems embedded in the infrastructure. How agile is it really? Is the city enabled to be reactive and proactive and user oriented?

Will citizens in smart cities be economically richer? 

“There are a number of ways Smart Cities save money. Transportation, for example. Households spend on average $5,000 less per annum on commuting. Real estate tends to retain its value due to access to services. Access to schools, public services, and jobs is not an afterthought and mixed-income community, which powerfully impacts upward economic mobility, is the norm.  A key feature of smart cities is efficiency. Well-designed technological tools benefit government, the environment and residents. Smart cities can improve the efficiency of city services by eliminating redundancies, finding ways to save money and streamlining workers’ responsibilities. The results provide higher-quality services; at lower cost.

“People. Planet. Profit. It’s the ‘triple bottom line.’ The social, environmental and economic benefit central to Smart City development is communities with environmental and social advancement given the same importance as profits. Everyone wins.”

To find out more about how dwp can help you design a smarter, richer and more beautiful future contact

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